For our family, strawberry pie signals the start of summer. My mother-in-law began the tradition years ago with a simple strawberry pie my daughter fell in love with. It’s an easy, throw together dessert that’s way too high in sugar and relies on Jell-O as a key ingredient. If my daughter hadn’t asked me to take over when my mother-in-law stopped making it, it probably wouldn’t have crossed my radar.
But she did so I do and it’s become something of a tradition to have in our house around Canada Day. That time of year when fresh strawberries are at their best. Served with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream, it mimics the red and white of the Canadian flag, which is another reason I usually make it on or around July 1st.
It’s funny how fiction and life intertwine. My current WIP features a teenage heroine who wants to be a chef. In the process of planning a special meal with fussy little tartlets for dessert, she’s forced to ditch that plan and make this strawberry pie instead.
Child’s play it is. But child’s play never tasted so good.
Butter a deep dish pie plate or tart tin and set aside (I use a Pyrex pie plate that’s 9 ½ inches/24 cm across and 2 inches/5cm deep).
1 cup/240 mL Graham cracker crumbs
1 cup/240 mL ground almonds
1/3 cup/80 mL butter
¼ cup/60 mL white sugar
In a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, ground almonds and white sugar. Melt butter. Blend into crumb mix until it appears pebbly. Press mixture into buttered pie plate or tart tin. Freeze. The crust can be made a day or two ahead of time.
5 cups (1.18 litres) fresh strawberries
3 oz/85 grams strawberry Jell-O
1 cup/240 mL white sugar
1 cup/240 mL water
In a medium saucepan, combine Jell-O powder, sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil vigorously for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Cool to room temperature (I put it in the fridge for a few minutes while I prepare the strawberries). Clean strawberries and remove green tops. Make sure they are dry. Remove cold crust from the freezer. Place strawberries inside the crust, pointed tips up. When the Jell-O mixture is room temperature, carefully pour over the strawberries. Refrigerate for an hour or two until set.